2009 Sports Hall of Fame Inductees

Rob Evans

Rob was born in Hobbs in 1946, played basketball for the Eagles, and went on to play at New Mexico State University. He had his early training in coaching at Las Cruces before he went on to an outstanding career in college basketball.

His teams won championships at Texas Tech University, Ole Miss, and Arizona State University. Evans is also in a number of sports halls of fame, including the New Mexico State Hall of Fame.

He was the guest speaker at the inaugural Lea County Athletic Hall of Fame induction in 2008, the Hall’s first year. His emotional remembrances of playing basketball for Coach Ralph Tasker set the stage for the inaugural class of inductees. Rob is currently Assistant Coach at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Roy “Super Looper” Cooper  

Roy Cooper is another Lea County cowboy who came from a ranching family and went on to become an outstanding athlete. Cooper has so many wins, honors, and championships that it takes his own web site to list them all.

Cooper was born in Hobbs in 1955, grew up in the nearby community of Monument. He went to school here in Lea County, then attended Cisco Junior College and Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Cooper began winning rodeos when he was not much more than a kid, but when he turned pro following college he became the top rodeo cowboy in the world, passing many milestones in dollars won.

He is an eight-time world champion, with All Around Cowboy honors in 1983. He is already an inductee in other sports halls, including the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

As just about everyone in Lea County knows, Roy is the son of Betty and Dale “Tuffy” Cooper, his father a champion rodeo cowboy and according to the latest New Mexico Magazine the “Grandaddy of Rodeo.” Tuffy was inducted into the Lea County Athletic Hall of Fame last year. Roy’s parents still live on their ranch outside of Monument; Roy now resides in Decatur, Texas.

Gene Wells

Wells was born in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, in 1925. He attended high school in Ada and MacAlester, Oklahoma, graduating from the latter in 1943. Duane Fisher, longtime Hobbs High coach, was Wells’ football coach in high school.

Wells served in the Air Force (1943-1946) during World War II. After the war, he attended Oklahoma A&M (now known as Oklahoma State University) on a football scholarship, graduating in 1949.

Over the years he served as a teacher, principal, and coach, coming to Hobbs Municipal Schools 1953. In Hobbs. Wells became the Athletic Director, and under his leadership Watson Stadium was built, completed in 1965 which when completed provided the largest seating for a high school football stadium in New Mexico.

Wells also served as Head Track Coach in Hobbs, and the Gene Wells Relays have been held annually for many years.

Ray Hilburn

Tatum’s Ray Hilburn recounts that football, basketball, and track were a major part of his life as a kid, and they continue to be important to him as he watches his children, grandchildren, and neighbors’ young ones participate in various sports.

Ray was an elite athlete, a person who set records when he ran during his youth. Most of us can only stand on the sidelines and be bedazzled at the superb athletic skills we see others demonstrate. We participate by observing; we satisfy our longing to act by becoming fans of those who do spend their lives in physical endeavors.

Ray Hilburn, a longtime Lea rancher, graduated from Tatum High School in 1960. He received a full scholarship for all of his years at Texas Western College, now the University of Texas at El Paso, from which he graduated in 1965.

Hilburn played basketball and football in high school, and he set state records while at Tatum; then he went on to set records as he ran NCAA track for Texas Western. He had many wins at regional and nation NCAA meets.

Hilburn says that one of his fondest memories is of an NCAA meet in Abilene, an event at which he set a state record that held for 20 years. Another one of his favorite memories is the NCAA championships in Lawrence, Kansas, where he won the 400-meter hurdles, running in the outside lane and receiving his wristwatch award for his win.